Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program?

Subject: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 09:09:25 -0400

Carol Anne Wall is <<... writing a paper for grad school on trends/needs in
tech comm education, and need to do some informal primary research for the
paper... What's the most important skill an undergrad tech comm student
should learn before graduating?>>

A single word: "flexibility". You'll be exposed to or forced to use a wide
variety of idiosyncratic, buggy, annoying tools over the course of your
career, and need to be able to readjust your mind set to work with them;
worse yet, just when you figure one out, they spring a new one on you.
You'll also be exposed to a wide variety of idiosyncratic, batty, annoying
developers and subject-matter experts (SMEs), and you'll have to be able to
adapt your approach to each of them individually--sometimes "on the fly".
Last but not least, you'll frequently encounter setbacks on the job that
require adjustments of your mental attitude, work speed, and ability to shut
up and curse in your head, where only you can hear it--even if yelling and
screaming and throwing things would make you feel much, much better.
("Sorry, I thought I was clear: when I said the deadline was 6/7/2001, I
meant June 7, not July 6. I hope this doesn't put you under too much time
pressure?", "No, we deleted those six modules 2 months ago. I hope you
haven't wasted any time documenting them.", "What do you mean you didn't
know about the Debug module? We told you about it 3 months ago. You mean we
didn't? Oh. Sorry. Can you still write something before the release data?"
"Of course it makes no sense. If it made sense, we couldn't sell tech
support at $50 per hour. This module is intended to be a profit center. Just
see if you can't document it in such a way that it doesn't look like an
overt cash grab.")

<<I'd also like to know how long you've been in the field and/or out of

Something like 15 years as a pro, and about a third of that again as an
amateur. My goodness... time flies when you're having fun!

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
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